Saying the bank is “here to grow,” Santander Puerto Rico President Román Blanco-Reinosa outlined the financial institution’s strategy through 2015 — a plan that calls for achieving a net profit of $100 million in three years by focusing on five core business areas. When that vision is translated into numbers, it adds up to 100×35.
Blanco-Reinosa, who assumed the reins of Santander’s local operations in July 2012, spoke candidly with members of the media Thursday, describing how the premise of the plan was sparked by a conversation he had with Benjamín Vélez, the bank’s former marketing manager, during the plane ride from his native Spain to Puerto Rico last summer.
“As I was making my way here, I was asking Benjamín many questions about the island and that was when he said, ‘You know, Puerto Rico is very small, it’s 100×35,’ and believe me, I memorized that,” Blanco-Reinosa said. “And since learning that, I had been thinking about how to use it.”
So the plan was born. To achieve the $100 million goal — up from the $90 million in net income Santander Puerto Rico reported last year — the bank will focus on five key areas: high value customers; commercial clients; wealth management; consumer accounts; and insurance.
“We’re a universal bank that addresses all of Puerto Rico’s segments, the only bank that does that in Puerto Rico,” he said. “Santander BanCorp [Santander Puerto Rico’s parent] is also the island’s most profitable bank in the context of banking in general and we’re going to uphold that by growing and redefining how we’re going to go about it.”
Santander’s strategy calls for leveraging its international banking experience in benefit of the local market, including small and mid-sized businesses — which Blanco-Reinosa stressed are responsible for creating local jobs — as well as the up-and-coming workforce graduating from island universities.
In that sense, in September 2012, Banco Santander Puerto Rico, through its Santander Universities Global Division, announced the start of its “U-Work” internship program on the island, an initiative launched with the support of the Economic Development Bank, the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company and the Education Department.
So far, 260 college students have benefited from the six-month internship program that Blanco-Reinosa said gives companies an opportunity to see what’s out there in terms of human capital.
That initiative, coupled with the Santander Universidades program — which awards credit lines and scholarships to novel impresarios — are the bank’s way of putting much-needed education and resources in the hands of budding professionals, he said.
“This is all part of the focus of helping Puerto Rico grow. We’re an important banking institution here and we must contribute our grain of sand,” he said.